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Top tips for your first day of childcare

Whether it happens at 16 weeks or 16 months, your baby’s first day of childcare is an emotional time. Despite the nerves, transitioning to this next stage of your child’s life is also a time to celebrate.

“We understand starting child care and early learning can be a nervous time for children and their families,” says Michelle Tuffley, Operations Manager at Sanctuary Early Learning Adventure. “Any change to your little one’s routine will take some adjusting to.”

However, she says there are many things you can do to prepare for your first day and make it a smooth, exciting and happy time.


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Be consistent

Ms Tuffley recommends maintaining consistency is important for any routine change.

“Aim to drop off at a similar time every morning and pick up at a regular time,” she says. “Also, maintain a consistent bedtime routine and plan in extra bonding time with your child at home. This could include a special story before bed.”

She says child care can be very stimulating, so your child may need extra downtime or some quiet play in a familiar environment with you.


How to say goodbye at childcare

It is important to say goodbye to your child every day, rather than sneaking away when they are having fun.

“Saying goodbye helps your child understand what is going on and reduces the risk of anxious attachment,” Ms Tuffley says. “It also helps you adjust to the new routine, as this is an emotional time for you, too.”

It’s best to arrive early so you have plenty of time to help them settle in and to say goodbye.

“When you arrive, talk them through what their day will look like, and what they may do,” she says.

“Remind them you will pick them up and when. This provides them with a sense of security, especially when they see you at pick-up time — as you promised.”


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What if your child cries at drop-off?

Some children become upset when their parent or guardian first leaves them at the early learning child care centre. This usually settles as the child becomes more familiar with their surroundings.

“There may be days when your little one does not want you to leave, but usually before you get to the front gate and look back they will be playing and laughing. This happens to so many children and is a normal part of development in babies and toddlers.

“There will also be days when you come to pick them up and they are having so much fun they don’t want to leave! Again, totally normal,” Ms Tuffley says.

“Most importantly, talk to your child’s educators about how to help your child with the change. Our Sanctuary Early Learning team has lots of experience happily settling young children into childcare, and they are there to help your child and your family with the transition.”


6 Things you can do to prepare your baby for childcare

  1. Try to spend time with your child on their first day and ensure it isn’t rushed. Where possible try to make their first day a shorter day.
  2. Pack bags the night before. If your morning is calm, you are both more likely to be calm when you say goodbye.
  3. Include a comfort item or photographs in their bag.
  4. Before starting, talk to your child about:
    – Where they will be going to learn and play
    – Why they are going to the centre and what they will do there
    – Who they will meet, new friends, teachers and animal friends.
  5. Visit the early learning centre with your child a number of times before your first day. This will give your child an opportunity to get to know the educators and surroundings (and see how much fun their new friends are having). Try visiting at what will be your regular drop-off time to introduce the new routine.
  6. Build a good relationship with your child’s educators. If your child can see that you trust the educator, they are more likely to settle in and trust the educator too.

Is your child in childcare? Did they struggle to settle into the new routine?

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By Angela Sutherland
After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music. Angela is the editor of Kids on the Coast - a free family magazine whats on guide for Kids: things to do, school holiday fun and free activities for kids... Fun attractions, family food & travel, kids health & wellbeing, kids parties venues, parenting, pregnancy & babies, guide for parents. Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids things to do with kids, schools and education and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

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